Boxing Insider Notebook: Kovalev, Canelo, Garcia, Conto, Beterbiev, and more…

Compiled By: William Holmes

The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of October 8th to October 15th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.


Photo Credit: Joe Barbuto

South Philadelphia Heavyweight Sonny Conto Right at Home in the Columbus Day Parade

Sonny Conto took time out from preparing for his hometown bout on Oct. 18 to appear in the annual Columbus Day Parade in South Philadelphia. Riding in a convertible adorned with posters promoting his bout at Temple University’s Liacouras Center, Conto entertained the crowd and spent time after the parade, signing autographs and handing out TEAM CONTO headbands to fans.

“It was an amazing experience,” said Conto. “I went to this parade every year as a kid, and this year, I was actually in the parade. It’s an incredible feeling.”

Conto’s convertible was positioned just behind the car of famed Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo. Rizzo passed away in 1991, but is still a beloved figure among South Philadelphia’s Italian community.

Tomorrow it’s back to work for the heavyweight fighter, as he prepares for his bout this Friday.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets priced at $150, $90, $75 and $50 (not including applicable fees) can be purchased at the Liacouras Center Box Office, www.liacourascenter.com or charge by phone at 800-298-4200.
A Russia-Ukraine Story Ten Years in the Making- Friday in Philadelphia

As Russia and Ukraine dominate the news, both countries have become inextricably linked to the current impeachment inquiry in Washington DC. Up the road in Philadelphia, two world champion boxers–one Russian, one Ukrainian–are preparing to meet in a light-heavyweight unification bout.

As their home countries wage war against each other, their thoughts are 5,000 miles away, focused not on the opponent’s country, but on the man he will meet in the center of the ring at Temple University’s Liacouras Center on Oct. 18. The winner will leave the ring as WBC/ IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion of the world.

Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs) is the current WBC Light- Heavyweight Champion, having defeated Adonis Stevenson via knockout in the 11th round of their Dec., 2018, bout in Quebec, Canada. The knockout would end Stevenson’s boxing career.

IBF Light-Heavyweight Champion Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs) defeated Gvozdyk when the two met as amateurs–Beterbiev representing Russia, Gvozdyk representing Ukraine.

Ukraine Arrives on the American Stage

In recent weeks, calls for President Donald Trump’s impeachment became deafening after Ukraine released the transcript of a phone call between its President, former comedian Volodymir Zelensky, and Trump, which included an exchange about former Vice President and Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter. Trump urged the newly elected leader to investigate the younger Biden.

The impeachment inquiry will examine whether Trump held up $400M in aid to Ukraine with the intention of releasing it when the country began an investigation of Hunter Biden, and one into Ukraine’s role in the 2016 US Presidential election–a conspiracy theory, which Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Guiliani, have repeatedly pushed publicly. The premise is that Crowdstrike, a California-based company that was brought in to investigate the Russian hack of the Democratic party’s servers that election year, is owned by a Ukrainian.

Zelensky, who played the President of Ukraine in a television show called Servant of the People for four years, was elected in a landslide victory in April and began his term as Ukraine’s sixth president in May. He’s an unwitting participant in American politics, which was made clear during a 10-hour, informal question-and-answer session last week with reporters in Ukraine. He spoke dismissively about the potential that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election, saying he would have to be shown a reason to proceed with any joint “theoretical” investigation.

Like the boxers training in Philadelphia, who are focused on their fight and not on war and politics, his mind is elsewhere – working to end the conflict with Russia on Ukraine’s Eastern border.

His constituents, the people of Ukraine, are not focused on American politics and elections. “The Trump phone call is being covered right now in Ukraine,” said Petro Shugurov, former Ring Magazine Ukraine Writer and Contributing Editor who lives in the country. “Mostly just that Zelensky was involved. The Ukrainian people have enough to worry about with our own politics.”

The American and the Canadian

While the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has a complicated and lengthy history, the roads that led Beterbiev and Gvozdyk to Philadelphia are well-traveled.

“The Boxing Federations of Russia and Ukraine are very similar,” said Shugurov. “They still operate like they did during the days of the USSR. The Russian Federation is like God Almighty to boxers in Russia–there are a lot of programs to support them and they receive stipends.”

Both boxers were decorated amateurs. Beterbiev had over 300 amateur fights and won gold and silver in world-level contests in Milan and Chicago. Gvozdyk had over 250 amateur bouts and won a bronze medal for Ukraine in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Gvozdyk is followed closely by those in his home country of Ukraine and Ukrainians stateside, despite moving to California five years ago to focus on his career: “One month ago, we went to the Ukrainian Festival. There were a lot of Ukrainian people there and I was surprised that a lot of them knew me. We spent a couple hours there, signing autographs and taking photos.”

Gvozdyk, whose father had a brief career as an amateur boxer in Ukraine, is living out his dream in California. “When I asked my wife to come to California with me, to leave her home, she said the most important thing is that I’m going to go with you,” Gvozdyk said of his wife, Daria. He acknowledges that it can sometimes be difficult to be away from family as the two raise a family, but the kids–two boys and one girl, ages 3-10–have traveled the world with their parents. “Our kids are the most quiet kids on the plane when they travel. They don’t cry. They know it’s pointless.” Gvozdyk lost his mother in 2014.

Politics is not a topic that Gvozdyk is anxious to discuss, going so far as to say he doesn’t know what’s happening. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “I’m just an athlete. I don’t want to make any parallels to the fight. I am living in California, he is living in Montreal. I just don’t know anything about it.”

“Teddy Atlas, Gvozdyk’s trainer, runs a tight ship,” said J Russell Peltz, who is co-promoting the championship fight with Top Rank. “It doesn’t surprise me that he’s not focused on what’s happening on the other side of the world.”

His opponent, Beterbiev, shared the sentiment. “Any war is bad for people, but I really don’t want to talk about it,” said the Russian, who relocated to Montreal six years ago to further his career. “It’s far from me in Canada.”

Shugurov hints at other motives at why the boxers don’t want to talk about life in the former Soviet bloc: “They are high-profile athletes and they don’t want to upset anyone. They don’t want to have problems like those that have happened with other boxers.

“Ukrainians and Russians are everywhere and they are like a network. Fighters as a whole don’t want to get involved. They want to make money and not have problems. Beterbiev, he’s Canadian now. Gvozdyk is American.”

Beterbiev’s family life nearly mirrors that of his opponent. Married with four children ages 2-8, Beterbiev lost his father to an accident when he was only sixteen. His father was just starting to enjoy his son’s career. “A couple days before he died, I won a bronze medal in a tournament. He said to me: ‘You won this fight. Now go go go. I believe in you.’”

Raising a family away from home hasn’t been easy for Beterbiev and his wife, Medena, though Beterbiev’s mother has traveled to Canada to help.

Much Can Change in Ten Years

Ten years ago, Ukraine was led by Viktor Yushchenko, who had survived an assassination attempt by poison five years prior. There was political chaos and a gas dispute with Russia. Putin was not yet President of Russia, but it was understood that he was in charge of the country. There was tension between the two countries, but nothing that matched the war and hostility they are facing today.

“We had beat Germany together,” said Shugurov. “We fought Nazis together. A whole lot of people believed we should be one country. While Ukraine had a Western-friendly leader, there was a brotherhood between the people of the countries.”

The US had a different president, one not embroiled in an impeachment inquiry permeated by Russian and Ukrainian ties.

Ten years ago, two fighters, one from Ukraine, one from Russia, met in a boxing ring with the Russian besting the Ukrainian. The two fighters, now husbands and fathers, undefeated world champion professionals, living away from home and seeking the glory that comes with unifying world titles, will meet in the most pivotal fight of their respective careers. It’s a fight that transcends politics and war, whose winner, at least in the boxing world, will be declared Unified Champion of the World.
Andrew “El Chango” Cancio to Face Rene Alvarado in Rematch for WBA Super Featherweight Title

WBA Super Featherweight World Champion Andrew “El Chango” Cancio (21-4-2, 16 KOs) will defend his title for a second time in a 12-round rematch against Rene “Gemelo” Alvarado (31-8, 20 KOs). The event will take place on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Calif. and will be streamed live exclusively as part of fight season on DAZN.

“Andrew Cancio is a very resilient fighter and has proven himself with his raw talent and passion, showing his true potential to grow in this industry. Meanwhile, Rene Alvarado has also put in hard work during his tenure, with an impressive determination in the ring that has kept up his winning streak over the past couple of years,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy. “This year, we’ve put on many high-quality bouts at Fantasy Springs and are confident this event will be the best so far. We’re also excited to add this card to this fall’s action-packed fight season on DAZN. You don’t want to miss this!”

Cancio is a 30-year-old world champion who recently made two back-to-back stoppage wins against former undefeated world champion Alberto “Explosivo” Machado. The native of Blythe, Calif. has become a hero in his hometown, where he received a “Key to the City” after his first win against Machado. Cancio is managed by Ray Chaparro and recently re-signed with Golden Boy before his win against Dardan Zenunaj. Since his return to the sport after a two-year hiatus, he has become one of Golden Boy’s most prominent and determined champions.

“I’m very excited to return to my second home, Fantasy Springs Casino on November 23 for the rematch with Rene Alvarado,” said Andrew Cancio. “This is my 12th time fighting there, and I love the enthusiasm my fans bring to the venue in support of my fights. Rene Alvarado and I have fought before and now he’s earned another opportunity to fight me. I know he’ll be very well prepared to try and take my WBA world title. However, I plan on defending my championship in impressive style once again and show boxing fans in attendance and watching on DAZN that I’m the best 130-pound fighter in the world, period!”

Alvarado is a 30-year-old super featherweight contender who has faced challenging opponents in his professional career including Robinson “Robin Hood” Castellanos, Rocky Juarez, Joseph “JoJo” Diaz, Manuel “Tino” Avila, Jayson Velez, Yuriokis “El Ciclon de Guantanamo” Gamboa, and Carlos “The Solution” Morales. A veteran in the ring that originates from Nicaragua, Alvarado hopes to avenge his loss against Andrew Cancio.

“Nicaragua is known for its great world champions, and I’m one step away from becoming one,” said Rene Alvarado. “I’m coming for the victory against Andrew Cancio on November 23. We know each other very well, and it’s going to be a war.”

In the co-main event, Xu Can (17-2, 3 KOs), China’s third world champion, will defend his WBA Featherweight World Title against rising contender Manny Robles III (18-0, 8 KOs) of Los Angeles in a 12-round fight. Robles is a crafty fighter whose grandfather and father were renowned trainers. After victories against the likes of Edgar “Kid Neza” Valerio and Rigoberto Hermosillo, Robles is ready to take on the biggest challenge of his career against a man who has become a national hero in his home country.

“I’m ready to make the second defense of my world title,” said Xu Can. “I defended it with honor in my home country of China, and now I’ll come back to the United States to defend it against a tough fighter. Manny Robles III as earned his opportunity. He is smart and tough, but I plan to remain champion for a very long time.”

“My time has come,” said Manny Robles III. “All of my amateur experience, the hours spent in the gym, and the tough fights as a professional have prepared me for this challenge. I’m ready to bring a world title to Los Angeles and make everyone at home proud. Xu Can is a phenomenal fighter, but on Nov. 23, the Robles family will crown its very own world champion.”

Rashidi “Speedy” Ellis (21-0, 14 KOs) of Boston will fight Eddie “Eboy” Gomez (23-3, 13 KOs) of the Bronx, N.Y. in a 10-round rematch for the vacant WBA Continental Americas Welterweight Title. Ellis is very close to a world title opportunity, while Gomez is eager to avenge his stunning first-round knockout loss to him in 2016.

Victor Morales Jr. (12-0, 7 KOs) of Vancouver, Wash. will return in an eight-round super featherweight bout. This will be Morales’ first fight on a Golden Boy card after signing with the company.

Alberto “Impacto” Melian (5-1, 3 KOs) of Buenos Aires, Argentina will participate in an eight-round super bantamweight fight. Melian is a two-time Olympian who will return after his first loss against Leonardo “Leon” Baez for the NABA Super Bantamweight Title.

Baishanbo Nasiyiwula (15-3-1, 6 KOs) of Urumqi, China will face Saul Corral (30-14, 20 KOs) of Sonora, Mexico in an eight-round super lightweight bout.

Daniel Barrera will make his professional debut in a four-round super flyweight fight.

Alex Rincon (7-0, 6 KOs) of Dallas will return in a six-round super welterweight fight.

Opponents for this undercard will be announced shortly.

Ryan Garcia to Face ‘Ruthless” Romero Duno in Co-Main Event of Canelo-Kovalev

The Canelo vs. Kovalev undercard will be brimming with action as it features the returns of Ryan Garcia, Bakhram Murtazaliev, Seniesa Estrada, Marlen Esparza and many others. The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be streamed live exclusively as one of the most anticipated events this fight season on DAZN.

“We have put a lot of thought into this long-awaited night, and we’re eager to deliver one of the best undercards of the year,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy. “This event will feature some of our brightest talents taking on the toughest fights of their careers. With Ryan Garcia, we have a huge star in the making, but he’ll need to get past a tough, hard-hitting contender in Romero Duno to secure his path for a world title. We also have Seniesa Estrada and Marlen Esparza, who will look to final end their rivalry in a fight for the Interim WBA Flyweight Title. So, whether in person or live on DAZN, a new chapter in boxing’s history will unfold on November 2.”

As announced previously, rising superstar Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs) of Victorville, Calif. will look to unify the vacant WBC Silver Lightweight Championship with NABO Lightweight Champion “Ruthless” Romero Duno (21-1, 16 KOs) of Cotabato City, Philippines in the 12-round co-main event to Canelo vs. Kovalev. This will be a fight between two of the hardest-hitting lightweights in the Golden Boy stable.

“This is a big moment for me,” said Ryan Garcia. “These opportunities don’t come often. It’s my chance to show what I’m capable of on the biggest stage in boxing. I’m not going to let this opportunity slip. I’m fighting against Romero Duno, the opponent I wanted since the beginning, so I’m going show that I’ve reached another level on Nov. 2.”

“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” said Romero Duno. “I’m so excited to be part of a such a big night as the co-main event of Canelo vs. Kovalev. This fight has been building up for some time. I’ve had my eye on Ryan Garcia for a while now. I promise to do everything it takes to beat him on Nov. 2 and take home a big victory for the Philippines!”

Undefeated Russian prospect Bakhram Murtazaliev (16-0, 13 KOs) will face the biggest test of his young career in a 12-round elimination bout with Jorge Fortea (20-1-1, 6 KOs) of Valencia, Spain for the mandatory position in the IBF Junior Middleweight Division. Murtazaliev was originally supposed to fight Jeison Rosario on September 21 for the #1 position but Rosario pulled out due to an injury. This exciting bout will be co-promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Sampson Boxing.

“I have been waiting a long time for this opportunity. I am excited for my first fight with my new trainer, Virgil Hunter. We will be ready on November 2nd to face Fortea and become mandatory challenger. Thank you to my team Main Events, Krusher Promotions, Kathy Duva, Sergey Kovalev, my manager, Egis Klimas and Virgil Hunter for making my dream a reality.”

According to Fortea, “It’s a moment I have been waiting for whole my life, to be part of the undercard of Canelo vs Kovalev for my US debut is like a dream. I trained 15 years for this. I want to thank Sampson Lewkowicz for making it true, Main Events and Golden Boy for hosting the eliminator. Murtazaliev is indeed a strong and dangerous boxer but I will be ready for that and my skills will prevail. I won’t waste the opportunity to fight for a world title”

Bakhram is a terrific fighter and we are so pleased to be able to give him this great opportunity on such an auspicious night,” said Main Events’ CEO Kathy Duva. “With any luck, Main Events and Krusher promotions will have another world champion soon.”

Two of the most exciting and popular female boxers in the sport today will finally settle their heated rivalry as Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada (17-0, 7 KOs) of East Los Angeles, Calif. and Marlen Esparza (7-0, 1 KOs) of Houston, Texas battle for the vacant Interim WBA Flyweight Title. This clash has been building up for over two years as both fighters have been exchanging words over social media and various interviews.

“Thank you to my promoter Golden Boy, especially Roberto Diaz for making this fight possible,” said Seniesa Estrada.“I’m happy to give the fans the fight they’ve been wanting to see. I’m looking forward to representing women’s boxing in a positive way. I’m going to put on a great show and demonstrate my skills, showing things that people have not yet seen from me. Thank you to all the people who continue to support me.”

“My team and I have been pushing for this fight,” said Marlen Esparza. “I know this is what the fans want. Now I’m forcing her to back up everything she has ever said. She knows it’s going to be a long night for her.”

Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (12-0-1, 8 KOs), a fan-favorite native of Philadelphia, will fight for the vacant NABF Welterweight Title against Carlos Ortiz (11-4, 11 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico. Cobbs is an exciting, unconventional fighter who has taken the undefeated records of Ferdinand “Lucky Boy” Kerobyan and most recently against Steve “Manos de Oro” Villalobos.

Rising 17-year-old prospect Tristan Kalkreuth (2-0, 2 KOs) of Duncanville, Texas will return in a four-round cruiserweight fight.

Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8 KOs) of Merki, Kazakhstan will fight in a 10-roumd middleweight battle against Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13 KOs) of San Ysidro, California for the WBC – USNBC Middleweight Title. Nursultanov is a top prospect in the hot middleweight division and is current ranked #10 in the IBF. Olivas hits hard with power in both hands and has never been stopped. This should be an explosive match-up.

Evan Holyfield, the son of legendary Hall of Famer Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, will make his much-anticipated professional debut in a four-round junior middleweight fight against Nick Winstead (0-1) of Abita Springs, La.

Canelo –Kovalev Stacked Undercard at MGM on November 2nd

The Canelo vs. Kovalev undercard will be brimming with action as it features the returns of Ryan Garcia, Bakhram Murtazaliev, Seniesa Estrada, Marlen Esparza and many others. The event will take place Saturday, Nov. 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and will be streamed live exclusively as one of the most anticipated events this fight season on DAZN.

“We have put a lot of thought into this long-awaited night, and we’re eager to deliver one of the best undercards of the year,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy. “This event will feature some of our brightest talents taking on the toughest fights of their careers. With Ryan Garcia, we have a huge star in the making, but he’ll need to get past a tough, hard-hitting contender in Romero Duno to secure his path for a world title. We also have Seniesa Estrada and Marlen Esparza, who will look to final end their rivalry in a fight for the Interim WBA Flyweight Title. So, whether in person or live on DAZN, a new chapter in boxing’s history will unfold on November 2.”

As announced previously, rising superstar Ryan Garcia (18-0, 15 KOs) of Victorville, Calif. will look to unify the vacant WBC Silver Lightweight Championship with NABO Lightweight Champion “Ruthless” Romero Duno (21-1, 16 KOs) of Cotabato City, Philippines in the 12-round co-main event to Canelo vs. Kovalev. This will be a fight between two of the hardest-hitting lightweights in the Golden Boy stable.

“This is a big moment for me,” said Ryan Garcia. “These opportunities don’t come often. It’s my chance to show what I’m capable of on the biggest stage in boxing. I’m not going to let this opportunity slip. I’m fighting against Romero Duno, the opponent I wanted since the beginning, so I’m going show that I’ve reached another level on Nov. 2.”

“This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for,” said Romero Duno. “I’m so excited to be part of a such a big night as the co-main event of Canelo vs. Kovalev. This fight has been building up for some time. I’ve had my eye on Ryan Garcia for a while now. I promise to do everything it takes to beat him on Nov. 2 and take home a big victory for the Philippines!”

Undefeated Russian prospect Bakhram Murtazaliev (16-0, 13 KOs) will face the biggest test of his young career in a 12-round elimination bout with Jorge Fortea (20-1-1, 6 KOs) of Valencia, Spain for the mandatory position in the IBF Junior Middleweight Division. Murtazaliev was originally supposed to fight Jeison Rosario on September 21 for the #1 position but Rosario pulled out due to an injury. This exciting bout will be co-promoted by Main Events and Krusher Promotions in association with Sampson Boxing.

“I have been waiting a long time for this opportunity. I am excited for my first fight with my new trainer, Virgil Hunter. We will be ready on November 2nd to face Fortea and become mandatory challenger. Thank you to my team Main Events, Krusher Promotions, Kathy Duva, Sergey Kovalev, my manager, Egis Klimas and Virgil Hunter for making my dream a reality.”

According to Fortea, “It’s a moment I have been waiting for whole my life, to be part of the undercard of Canelo vs Kovalev for my US debut is like a dream. I trained 15 years for this. I want to thank Sampson Lewkowicz for making it true, Main Events and Golden Boy for hosting the eliminator. Murtazaliev is indeed a strong and dangerous boxer but I will be ready for that and my skills will prevail. I won’t waste the opportunity to fight for a world title”

“Bakhram is a terrific fighter and we are so pleased to be able to give him this great opportunity on such an auspicious night,” said Main Events’ CEO Kathy Duva. “With any luck, Main Events and Krusher promotions will have another world champion soon.”

Two of the most exciting and popular female boxers in the sport today will finally settle their heated rivalry as Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada (17-0, 7 KOs) of East Los Angeles, Calif. and Marlen Esparza (7-0, 1 KOs) of Houston, Texas battle for the vacant Interim WBA Flyweight Title. This clash has been building up for over two years as both fighters have been exchanging words over social media and various interviews.

“Thank you to my promoter Golden Boy, especially Roberto Diaz for making this fight possible,” said Seniesa Estrada. “I’m happy to give the fans the fight they’ve been wanting to see. I’m looking forward to representing women’s boxing in a positive way. I’m going to put on a great show and demonstrate my skills, showing things that people have not yet seen from me. Thank you to all the people who continue to support me.”

“My team and I have been pushing for this fight,” said Marlen Esparza. “I know this is what the fans want. Now I’m forcing her to back up everything she has ever said. She knows it’s going to be a long night for her.”

Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (12-0-1, 8 KOs), a fan-favorite native of Philadelphia, will fight for the vacant NABF Welterweight Title against Carlos Ortiz (11-4, 11 KOs) of Torreon, Mexico. Cobbs is an exciting, unconventional fighter who has taken the undefeated records of Ferdinand “Lucky Boy” Kerobyan and most recently against Steve “Manos de Oro” Villalobos.

Rising 17-year-old prospect Tristan Kalkreuth (2-0, 2 KOs) of Duncanville, Texas will return in a four-round cruiserweight fight.

Meiirim Nursultanov (12-0, 8 KOs) of Merki, Kazakhstan will fight in a 10-roumd middleweight battle against Cristian Olivas (16-5, 13 KOs) of San Ysidro, California for the WBC – USNBC Middleweight Title. Nursultanov is a top prospect in the hot middleweight division and is current ranked #10 in the IBF. Olivas hits hard with power in both hands and has never been stopped. This should be an explosive match-up.

Evan Holyfield, the son of legendary Hall of Famer Evander “Real Deal” Holyfield, will make his much-anticipated professional debut in a four-round junior middleweight fight against Nick Winstead (0-1) of Abita Springs, La.

The post Boxing Insider Notebook: Kovalev, Canelo, Garcia, Conto, Beterbiev, and more… appeared first on BoxingInsider.com.

WBC Prepares For 57th Annual Convention

By: Sean Crose

The World Boxing Council will be holding its 57th annual convention in Cancun October 21st through the 26th. The event will be held at the Grand Oasis Hotel and is being promoted as the biggest event of the year for the sport of boxing . The Council, widely known as the WBC, is the biggest of all the major professional boxing organizations and is associated with a full 166 countries around the world. Although such an event as the convention will clearly have a festive atmosphere (a Mayan Theme will be presented), the Council will also be discussing numerous matters of interest regarding the fight game.

A seminar for referees and judges will be held in order to bring improvement to some of the sport’s scoring and officiating (which is always a matter of controversy). There will be a focus here on the instant replay rule, which is being seen as a way to achieve more clear and objective rulings during and after fights. The use of earphones will also be discussed. Live crowds generally tend to react to anything their favorite fighter does, whether it’s effective or not, and such actions arguably can influence an official.

Another point of focus will be the Clean Boxing Program. The Council has joined Voluntary Anti Doping Association – VADA – in an attempt to keep the use of banned performance enhancing drugs – PEDs – out of boxing, where the impact of such drugs can be catastrophic. On top of that, the convention will address the matter of professional boxers engaging in the Olympic games. It is an idea the Council is strongly opposed to seeing come to fruition. Furthermore, standard issue matters of ranking and mandatories will be addressed during the time in Cancun.

Most importantly, the conference will focus on fighter safety. In a year of several high profile tragedies involving professional boxers, the issue carries with it a sense of urgency. The matter of weight safety is of particular interest to the Council, and will be addressed during the week long convention.

Aside from the issues that will be worked on at the gathering, a special tribute will be paid to ring great Julio Caesar Chavez. The legendary fighter will discuss his own battles with addiction and his fight to help others with their own battles through clinics he himself has established out of pocket.

The World Boxing Council was established in 1963. Its famous green belts are often seen as the premiere prizes of professional boxing

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Evander Holyfield Ends Retirement For Charity Boxing Match in Japan

By: Hans Themistode

It’s been close to ten years since former Heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield (44-10-2, 29 KOs) has entered a boxing ring. Like many former boxers who have a hard time staying away from the bright lights associated with it, Holyfield has regained his itch to compete at a high level once again.

Holyfield, age 56, is the only four time Heavyweight champion in history and was inducted into the boxing hall of fame back in 2017. It’s safe to say he has accomplished what many people never will.

Unlike his predecessors such as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr, James Tony and a host of others that kept fighting well into their late 40s and in the case of Hopkins, well into his 50s. Holyfield seemingly hung up the gloves for good following a knockout win Brian Nielsen in 2011.

Although concerns over his health could follow, the comeback trial that Holyfield is trekking on isn’t as strenuous as it may seem. The former Heavyweight champion and all-time great will step into the ring for charity reasons in Japan. This contest won’t be an official that will be placed on his record, nor will it be licensed.

Much like former champion Floyd Mayweather, Holyfield will simply look too dazzle the crowd and give them a show.

“The big thing is to give people in Japan the opportunity to see the only four-time heavyweight champion of the world.” Said Holyfield.

It’s true that Holyfield is the only four time Heavyweight champion but he is also one of the best to ever step into the ring as he has effectively carved out one of the best careers for a boxer regardless of the weight class.

There are currently no reports of Holyfield continuing his career past this one event. In terms of his physical abilities in the lead up to this contest, the former champion has always kept himself in great physical condition. His once vaunted power which resulted in stoppage wins over Michale Moorer, Mike Tyson and many others is still believed to be there, but don’t count on him putting it on display.

“I probably do,” when regarding his knockout power. “but it’s a charity match and we’ll see.”

As for when his contest will take place, it is slated to happen sometime in 2020.

Holyfields endeavors back into the ring shouldn’t alarm anyone concerned about his health. That is however, as long as this is not a reoccurring theme. For now, everyone should view this as nothing more than a fun night for the fans of Japan.

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Terence Crawford Takes on Egidijus Kavaliauskas on December 14th

By: Hans Themistode

Pound for pound star Terence Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) will make the third defense of his WBO Welterweight title on December 14th, when he takes on Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0-1, 17 KOs). The card will take place at Madison Square Garden, in New York City.

For Crawford, he will look to keep his name amongst the best in the division with a big victory. Many were hoping that Crawford would be in a more high profile fight but with many of the top names unavailable to him at the current moment, he elected to take on his mandatory challenger.

Kavaliauskas sports an undefeated record in his 22 pro fights but he has faced absolutely no one of note. In his first step up in competition, the undefeated title contender fought to a draw against Ray Robinson earlier this year. It was a disappointing result for the fighter nicknamed the “Mean Machine”.

Still, even with his short comings in his last bout, Crawford refuses to overlook his upcoming opponent.

“Egidijus Kavaliauskas is a two-time Olympian, and I can’t take him lightly,” Crawford said. “He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose, and that makes him dangerous. I never overlook any opponent, and this will be no exception. I’ll be ready for anything and everything he brings on Dec. 14 when I return to my second home, Madison Square Garden, and live on ESPN.”

The credentials of Kavaliauskas might be in question, but don’t bring that topic of conversation up to him. He has fought his way to this mandatory position and intends on making the most of it.

“I have prepared my whole boxing career for a fight of this magnitude,” said Kavaliauskas, who fights out of Oxnard, California. “Terence Crawford is an excellent fighter, but I fear no man. Nobody has seen the best of the ‘Mean Machine’ yet. I am going to shock a lot of people on Dec. 14, but it won’t be a surprise to me. I earned this title shot. It is my time.”

With unified Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr recently waging a war with former champion Shawn Porter and one time belt holder Danny Garcia along with Keith Thurman all in line for big time fights, it has left Crawford in some what of a boxing limbo.

The multiple division champion has been bellowing for a chance to prove that he is indeed the best in the division. For now, his cries won’t be answered.

If he wants the big fights that are currently unavailable to him in his division, then he will need to dispatch of Kavaliauskas in impressive fashion on December 14th.

The post Terence Crawford Takes on Egidijus Kavaliauskas on December 14th appeared first on BoxingInsider.com.

Warrington Wins to Set Up Unification

By: Oliver McManus

Josh Warrington has become used to late nights by now; his fight against Sofiane Takoucht was no different. The opening bell rang out at the Leeds Arena just past 11.15pm – at the same time TJ Doheny was in an eight rounder in Chicago – with Warrington making the third defense of his IBF world title. The featherweight across the ring was expected to provide a ‘routine’ work-out for Warrington

The start was measured with Warrington eager not to stumble over Takoucht’s southpaw stance. The Frenchman’s lead right was a cause of some early awkwardness with both fighters treading on one another’s feet – accidentally, albeit. Warrington was willing to bide his time in doubling up on the jab and settled for ‘little and often’ in the initial proceedings. A flurry of last minute aggression signalled his intent and put Takoucht on the back-burner.

Though Takoucht was replicating the trickiness of Kid Galahad, Warrington’s last opponent, it was clear that the Champion had adapted suitably. There was an increased tempo in the second round as more punches found their range before a clean right hand caught the Frenchman brash across the face. A flash knockdown and early success for Warrington.


Photo Credit: Frank Warren_tv twitter account

Seconds later and the head of Takoucht became an open target and Warrington pursued it. Like a gorilla playing with the watermelon before devouring it, two quick shots dropped the challenger to the canvas. To his feet he rose, once more, but with the bit between his teeth there was to be no third chance; Warrington was relentless. Barrages of punches scrambled Takoucht, who just couldn’t regain his marbles, and Bob Williams showed compassion in stopping the contest in the third round. Unification surely must now be on the horizon.

Moston light-heavyweight Lyndon Arthur picked up the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title in somewhat awkward fashion. The ‘King’ was facing Emmanuel Anim, 14-2, and struggled with the unorthodox nature of the Ghanaian. Arthur grew in confidence to edge his way into the contest as Anim remained one-dimensional.

Anim, predominantly a super middleweight, looked diminutive in comparison to the macho-man figure of Arthur; 6”2’ tall and stockily built. The Ghanaian made the brighter start and put pressure on Arthur in the first round, forcing the home fighter to temporarily cover up. Anim’s ambition shook up the heavy pre-fight favourite who was struggling to establish a keen jab.

The sharpness from Anim was evident of his former life at 168lbs and he ‘lunged’ into punches far more than most light-heavyweight’s; looking to quickly change the distance of the fight. Shots swung in from all arms of the clock but the predominant success was when Lyndon Arthur tied himself up on the ropes.

To his credit Arthur, accomplished as an amateur, remained calm as he rode the oncoming storm. Perhaps looking to lull Anim into a false sense of security, there was no sense of panic as the rounds progressed. It was only a third into the contest that Arthur started to take a step back in response to Anim’s aggression; a fairly jolting reverse, rarely lateral or angular.

It made little difference to Arthur’s power which was unfurled in earnest for the first time in round four. A range-finding left jab was followed up by a sharp, striking straight right hand caught Anim on the button. The Ghanaian was down, easy as you like. That prompted more frequency to the success of the Moston fighter; a solid uppercut the pick of the punches in the fifth round.

Arthur inched his way into the contest in the middle rounds but the bout remained untidy.The movement of Anim was far superior and he was able to scamper around the ring without much resistance. In return the punches of Arthur became looser, a good thing, with spiteful power attached.

The eighth round saw Arthur in serious trouble despite the same-same attacks from Anim. Every flurry was ‘lungey’ and speculative but Arthur was failing to get to grips with that threat. Those predictable swings had Arthur writhing on the ropes in response but Anim’s inexperience proved dividends as he sat on Arthur’s chest, unable to produce a finish.

A brave response followed in the ninth with Arthur dictating proceedings. Pat Barrett did well to reassure his charge and he came out with relaxed shoulders, backing Anim up with his punches and boxing as he should have done from the start. Arthur boxed assuredly, despite relentless pressure from Anim, potentially to a fault. Urgency was required from Arthur, especially when Anim flagged, but the bout was fought at a similar pace throughout.

Not the most aesthetically pleasing of contests but an interesting one, certainly. 115-112, 117-110, 117-111 in favour of Lyndon Arthur.

There was silkier success for super-featherweight Zelfa Barrett who defended his Commonwealth title against Jordan McCorry. The tenacious Cambuslang challenger was fighting his third Queensbury fighter in quick succession. Barrett settled quickly, as he always does, and utilised the basics very well.

The nephew of Pat, former British and European champion, started quietly but efficiently. The sole loss on Barrett’s record was a fiercely-fought bout against Ronnie Clark but, that fight aside, he’s consistently been patient in his approach. McCorry is notoriously difficult to shift so there was no gung-ho approach from either fighter.

Barrett’s appreciation for the finer details is a rare commodity for a modern day fighter and his dedication to hammering hooks blasted the body of McCorry in the third round. Three in the opening couple minutes softened the guts before Barrett landed four, five in succession at the centre of the ring to visibly sap the breath out of his opponent.

McCorry came back strong in the fourth as he led the charge with optimistic punches – both landing punches, taking punches. A real ebb and flow developed to the encounter with a knockdown bringing the best out in McCorry and, in doing so, producing more quality work from Barrett. Both fighters produced quality moments and landed decent punches but, overall, the classier work was from the Manchester fighter. Barrett, for all his youth, boxing distinctly years above the 26 he possesses. More body punches took their toll on McCorry in the eighth who dropped to the canvas in sheer exhaustion.

Enough was enough in the ninth with McCorry down again and shaking his head; an exemplary performance from Barrett. At the end of the bout it was the Manchester man that took the share of the spoils, deservedly so, with the better work throughout the contest. Brave from McCorry, as we’ve come to expect, but beautiful from Barrett. Crisp, class, composed.

The televised undercard also saw two eye-catching Queensbury debuts for Shabaz Masoud (5-0) and George Davey (debut). Masoud looked fresh on his feet and picked his shots well to win 60-54 against Yesner Talavera. Davey was relaxed and looked to enjoy the occasion, flicking punches out with ease, to beat Zygimantas Butkevicious.

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UFC Fight Night 161: Jedrzejczyk Routes Waterson by Unanimous Decision

By: Jesse Donathan

The main event of UFC 161 between Michelle Waterson and Joanna “Champion” Jedrzejczyk may not have proven to be a fight of the year candidate Saturday night, but it does serve as a great example of how pressure from above can come with little to no consideration or regard for the best interests or wellbeing of the athletes themselves. The combat sports industry only cares about dollars and cents, a fact which underscores the value and necessity for a fighter to have a good team and management in their corner. Jedrzejczyk dominated Waterson Saturday night, taking home a five-round unanimous decision victory, though one unfortunately marred by a weight controversy and the resulting speculative fallout that saw the Waterson camp reportedly pressured into accepting a catchweight bout.

In an October 10, 2019 MMAMania.com article titled, “Joanna Jedrzejczyk has a message for her weight-cutting critics: Stay quiet, you’re not important,” author Jesse Holland touched based on some of the highlights from Jedrzejczyk’s UFC Fight Night 161 open workout scrum with MMAFighting.com prior to her Saturday night showdown against Michelle Waterson (17-7, 3 KOs) in Tampa, Florida.

“There are always some troubles with the weight cut, there’s always some risk, Jedrzejczyk said. I know people are smart and think it’s that easy to, ‘Hey, go run for 10 hours or don’t eat,’ but it’s not like this, you know? So, people who are not important who don’t know a lot about it should just stay quiet and just wait until the end, the results,” writes MMAMania.com.


Photo Credit: UFC Twitter Account

The story of the week leading up to UFC Fight Night 161 was the controversy surrounding reports Jedrzejczyk had informed the UFC brass well ahead of time that she would not be able to make the 115-pound strawweight limit. As BoxingInsider.com previously reported, Waterson’s camp held their ground in insisting Jedrzejczyk make the 115-pound strawweight division limit (116-pounds), reportedly having received ultimatums from the UFC to either accept a catchweight against Jedrzejczyk or face Jessica Andrade at UFC 244. Thankfully, Jedrzejczyk (16-3, 4 KOs) made weight at Friday’s weigh-in, coming in at a reported 115.5-pounds.

“I’m trying to unpack Joanna not champion here,” said ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen in his October 11, 2019 YouTube video titled, “Joanna not champion’s weight cut struggles….” According to Sonnen, “She calls the promotion and she says, ‘I can’t make weight.’ Now don’t forget, this is a feature fight with Michelle Waterson that has implications for top contender status, ultimately implications for title contender status in the division. She calls up three days early and says, ‘Hey, I can’t make weight.’”

“There is a certain amount of honor that comes with calling ahead of time, notifying the promotion, notifying the media and notifying your opponent, regardless of the deal that we had,” said Professor Sonnen in his classic reverse psychology critique of how the story unfolded. “I must tell you that I am going to break that deal,” said Sonnen, stepping into the role of the honorable Jedrzejczyk. Continuing, Sonnen went on to add, “So, instead of surprising you and dropping this in your lap, making you panic, making the commission panic, double-crossing my opponent who is going to go and get her weight off, I’m just going to tell you right up front I need a new deal, we got to make a new deal.”

“And, a couple of things here,” added the Bad Guy Inc. CEO. “First, is she going to get teased? Yeah. Was that unprofessional? Yeah. Does that beg question what the hell have you been doing this entire training camp that you can’t make weight? Yeah, it does,” said Sonnen who was no doubt roasting Jedrzejczyk in the face of a potentially disastrous situation for the UFC and ESPN should a last-second opponent substitution have taken place, or perhaps even worse yet, the main event itself cancelled altogether. Which was no doubt the genesis of reports surfacing from the mixed martial arts media of an ultimatum having been served up to the Waterson camp.

To give you an idea of how the actual fight went, by the 4th round the call must have come from upstairs for fight announcers Michael Bisping and guest coach Trevor Wittman to discuss the tremendous heart Waterson was displaying and to remind the audience both fighters were top level strikers despite the fact Waterson was bloodied and getting pieced up throughout the bout. As far as striking goes, Waterson was never really in the game throughout the duration of the match, her offensive mindset and killer instinct seemingly having taken a back seat to her team’s game planning and the realities of a five-round contest.

Michelle found it hard to navigate the distance with her taller, longer opponent as Waterson either looked to tie Jedrzejczyk up in the clinch along the fence or take her down throughout the five-round affair, which is a commendable strategy, but unfortunately one Waterson failed to capitalize on despite having her moments late in the third when she briefly took a standing Jedrzejczyk’s back, threatening with a rear naked choke before ultimately losing the position and submission not long before the end of the round.
Meeting the bell at the beginning of the fifth and final round, Jedrzejczyk’s right foot was badly swollen, her cornermen treating the injury with ice in between rounds, the result of repeated leg kick attacks from the Muay Thai specialist. Both fighters appeared well conditioned as the beginning of final five minutes began to count down, the two meeting in the center of the Octagon and embracing before Jedrzejczyk went back on the offensive. The two would tie up along the fence in the clinch for a meaningful period of time, with Bisping noting that Joanna had dominated Waterson thus far in the contest as the clock was winding down.

With just over two minutes left in the round, Waterson managed to briefly drag Jedrzejczyk to the mat before again taking a standing Jedrzejczyk’s back along the fence. Joanna eventually managed to peel Waterson off, receiving a thank you from Bisping in the process who had just finished explaining to the audience how to defend Waterson’s submission attempt, which coincidentally enough, Jedrzejczyk had just demonstrated beautifully. The round would come to a close with Jedrzejczyk on a bloodied Waterson’s back, the two warmly embracing each other after a hard fought 25-minute battle after the final bell rung.

With the story of UFC Fight Night 161 being Jedrzejczyk’s reported difficulty in making the 115-pound strawweight limit of 116 pounds, the fact she dominated the fight is unfortunately overshadowed by the controversy surrounding her weight and the reported ultimatums levied to the Waterson camp in accepting a catchweight bout. Jedrzejczyk was the bigger woman in the cage Saturday night, she had a height and reach advantage, her length posed significant problems for Waterson and Jedrzejczyk’s top level Muay Thai kickboxing was on full display for the world to see.

Yet, despite all of those advantages, unfortunately there were those who wanted to see Waterson concede even more ground to Jedrzejczyk in accepting a catchweight bout despite being dominated under the originally agreed upon terms. While this bout may not have been a fight of the year candidate, it does stand as perhaps one of the best examples of how pressure from above can come with absolutely no consideration for the best interests or well-being of the athletes themselves, underscoring the necessity and value of a good team and proper management in a fighters corner in a combat sports industry that only cares about dollars and cents.

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Tickets Now On Sale For Ruiz-Joshua 2

By: Sean Crose

Boxing fans looking to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia now have a chance to satisfy both the inner fan and the inner tourist, for Matchroom Boxing announced on Sunday that tickets for the Andy Ruiz-Anthony Joshua rematch are now on sale. The first bout between the two heavyweights, which went down at New York’s Madison Square Garden last June, was one of the sport’s biggest upsets in years, as Ruiz stopped legitimate star and titlist Joshua in the Englishman’s US debut. Rather than fight in Great Britain (Joshua territory) or the United States (Ruiz territory), the two will meet for a second time in the most neutral of locations.

“On December 7,” Matchroom stated in a press release, “in the UNESCO heritage site of Diriyah – known as the land of kings and heroes – Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua will attempt to recapture belts taken from him by Andy ‘Destroyer’ Ruiz Jr in Diriyah Arena, a purpose-built arena for 15,000 fans on the night.” Matchroom also claimed that “travelers from 49 countries across the world can now secure 90 day tourist visas online in just seven minutes.” Joshua promoter, and Matchroom honcho, Eddie Hearn made sure to present himself in full salesman mode for the occasion:

“We already know there is a great passion for boxing in the Kingdom,” he stated, “but AJ and Andy will want their fans to come and support them, from across the region and from the UK and the US and Mexico.” Hearn also compared the fight and its surprising locality to famed battles of lore. “Due to the unique venue,” he said, “being staged outside of the UK or the US, the fight has already seen parallels drawn in the media to some of the most iconic fights in history, such as Muhammad Ali’s fights against George Foreman – ‘the Rumble in the Jungle’ – and Joe Frazier – the ‘Thrilla in Manila’”.

Clearly the Diriyah location is being used as a huge selling point and attention getter for the bout, which is being promoted as The Clash on the Dunes.“We have already seen the energy created by boxing when we staged the World Boxing Super Series match last year,” claimed Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al Faisal Al Saud, who is the Chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority. “This landmark moment – the first World Heavyweight Title fight in the Middle East – now takes that excitement to a whole new level.” He further stated that: “Athletes and audiences can expect to be knocked out by the passionate reception this event will enjoy in the Kingdom, and now, with the launch of tourism visas for 49 countries, it has never been easier for fans from around the world to come be part of history.”

The excitement was shared by Saudi Center for Energy Efficiency Chairman HH Prince Khaled bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. “This is a historic moment for Saudi Arabia,” he said, “welcoming the first World Heavyweight Championship. As a nation we have started to pave the way for becoming a global player in the sports and entertainment industry and we have witnessed a real appetite for the boxing sport.” He added that “This is the biggest boxing fight that has taken place in the region to date and we are bringing it to Saudi Arabia on December 7 – the world is watching us and we promise to deliver an unparalleled experience. SCEE are a proud partner of the GSA bringing Clash on the Dunes to Diriyah Season, 2019.”

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